Wood is one of the most popular materials used in the construction of outdoor swing sets, and it is for a good reason. A wooden swing set offers a safe space for kids to play, beautifies your backyard, and adds value to your home. However, without proper maintenance, your wooden swing set won’t last for long. Therefore, you need to adhere to recommended maintenance tasks to help it last longer and retain its aesthetic appeal.
So, how do you protect a wooden swing set? Develop a habit of conducting regular inspections to identify minor issues and deal with them before they get out of hand. You should also clean your playset regularly, follow weight recommendations, remove any detachable parts before winter, stain & seal the wood, and apply fresh stain/sealant at the appropriate time. Most importantly, make sure you only purchase high-quality equipment.
Keep reading to find out how to protect your wooden swing set to continue providing your children with endless play opportunities. We also discuss why playset maintenance is essential. Let us get started.
Why Is Swing Set Maintenance Critical?
Why should you take time to maintain and protect your wooden swing set? There are many reasons, including protecting your investment. Keep in mind that you spend a lot of money on the swing set, and you will want it to serve you for many years.
By performing regular maintenance, you keep it in good condition to get value for your money. The other reasons why proper maintenance is critical include:
1. Early problem detection
The truth is that your swing set deteriorates over time and may develop damage. With regular maintenance, you can spot issues early enough and take appropriate action. Detecting issues early lets you fix them before they get out of hand and turn into major repairs or replacements.
2. Helps to prevent injuries
The safety of your children is always the #1 priority when it comes to constructing playgrounds. Any slight negligence can result in life-threatening accidents.
When you take good care of your equipment, you minimize the risk of accidents occurring. It means that you can have peace of mind letting your little ones play on the swing set anytime they feel like.
3. Preserve its aesthetic appeal
Proper maintenance also helps to preserve the aesthetic value of the swing set. Regular cleaning, re-staining, and other maintenance tasks help to keep your wooden swing set at its best. You will be proud to have the swing set in your backyard when it looks new.
How to Maintain and Protect Your Wooden Swing Set
Now that you know why it is essential to maintain your swing set, let us discuss the specific maintenance tasks you need to perform.
1. Conduct regular inspections
Performing regular inspections is essential to the safety and longevity of your wooden swing set and its components. If you stay in an area where your children are fortunate to use the swing set year around, make sure you perform an inspection at least once every month.
If you don’t use the swing set during winter months, schedule a thorough inspection at the beginning of spring just before your kids start using it. You can conduct at least two other inspections before the end of spring.
Although some regular fixes and maintenance items will be evident during the inspection, take a closer look at the other components, such as the small hardware, plastic components, and the swing chains.
You need to be extremely careful, especially at the beginning of the outdoor play season, to avoid risking your kids’ lives. Check all bolts and screws to ensure they aren’t sticking out dangerously. You may also want to tighten all bolts and nuts if they are loose.
2. Stain and seal the wood
Wood is a naturally durable material, and some of it can even resist damage from fungus and pests. However, it doesn’t mean that you should not take precautions. Staining and sealing the wood to give it an extra layer of protection is always a good idea.
The sealant is particularly essential when you live in a region that experiences relatively harsh climatic conditions that can accelerate deterioration.
Staining is a good option if you want to change the wood’s appearance and provide a little more protection. Some wooden swing sets come when they are already stained, but you still need to occasionally freshen up the color.
If you are staining the wood to make it look new, make sure you use a color that matches the wood’s natural hue. Consider re-staining the wood every two or three years to maintain its beautiful appearance.
Before staining, take the time to wash the swing set well to remove debris and dirt. Let it dry for at least 24 hours before you stain it. If the weather is damp, you may be forced to wait for a relatively longer period.
Don’t stain the wood when it is still damp because you will lock in the moisture, leading to faster deterioration.
3. Keep it clean
The last thing you want to see is mildew forming on your swing set. To prevent potential mildew growth or get rid of what may have already started forming, consider giving the entire swing a nice washing with soap and a decker or hose cleaner.
You may also use a standard power washer as long as you keep the pressure to a minimum.
Using high pressure can easily damage your swing set. Consider washing the playset at least once every month. You can change the frequency to at least once every two weeks during the muddy season.
4. Seal the hardware components with caulking and spray for bugs
When you are first assembling your wooden swing set, take some time to spread caulking around each bolt. The caulking ensures that each bolt creates a watertight seal around it when screwed in. The watertight seal prevents moisture from seeping in, ensuring a prolonged lifespan.
The other way of stopping moisture from sipping in is by keeping the bolts coated with oil. Reapply the oil at the onset of each summer and end of each fall. Besides stopping moisture from sipping in, the oil also keeps the other parts moving smoothly and prevents rusting.
Typically, bolds and nuts coated with a lot of rust can break off easily, endangering your young ones’ lives.
You should also consider spraying the perimeter of the wooden swing set with a bug repellent at the beginning of each season. The bug repellent helps to keep ants and other bugs away.
Keep a close eye on the nests and hives that may have already been built in corners or undersides of slides. Should you notice them, get rid of them as soon as possible.
5. Follow weight recommendations
Every wooden swing set comes with weight recommendations from the manufacturer. While your playset may seem sturdy and durable, the worst could happen if you exceed the weight recommendations. Therefore, it is crucial to follow the weight restrictions.
Adhering to the weight recommendation will not only keep your kids safe, but it will also allow the wood and other components of the swing set to last longer without cracking.
The play platform of the swing set may have varying weight limits depending on its overall size. Some manufacturers set the limit by the number of bodies, while others indicate the actual weight. For instance, many of the standard Gorilla swing sets limit the play platform weight to 800 pounds.
Ensure you check your swing set’s instruction manual to find its specific weight recommendations, the acceptable number of children, and the appropriate age limits.
6. Remove detachable parts before winter
Wooden swing sets are naturally designed to withstand outdoor weather elements, but winter presents extreme conditions that can cause rapid tear and ear of different accessories. Extreme coldness can make materials brittle and susceptible to breaking. The weight of snow and ice can also strain some components of the equipment.
If you live in areas that experience extreme winter conditions and your kids won’t use the equipment until spring, consider removing all the detachable parts just before winter kicks in.
Depending on your swing set’s overall design, this might include rope ladders, gliders, trapeze bars, canopies, and swings.
If you can easily detach a component from the swing set and move it inside, please do so. Store the detached components in a safe place away from the extreme weather conditions. Sheds, basements, and garages are some of the ideal places where you can store the components.
If you don’t want to remove the detachable parts, then cover the equipment using a large tarp. Attach the tarp securely with a rope or fasteners to prevent it from being blown off in strong winds. Covering protects the entire swing set, including the wood structure.
Although a wooden swing set is a good addition to your yard, it requires constant maintenance to preserve its beauty and durability. By following the simple tips outlined in this article, you can protect your investment and keep your wooden swing set looking great for many years.